Historian professor Khoo Kay Kim in November 2009 in the China Press (titles in bold):
Rote learning stifles creativity, knowledge progress
Chinese primary schools are mere copycats
He (Khoo Kay Kim) said teaching in the Chinese schools system produces classes of graduates dedicated to plagiarism, awesome in this respect, but are nothing more than an Oxford dictionary pocket issue trawled inside out.
“These students have no creativity. Look at the Chinese school children, how many are famous scientists or can innovate on products?”
Khoo wasn’t just wrong. He had fashioned a lie then, with duplicity and disingenuousness, taunted the public and newspaper readers to prove him wrong, knowing well (unless he’s stupid) that nobody would take up the offer nor could they.
In Khoo’s calculation, an education system is only good if it produces (a) ‘famous’ scientists and (b) innovating products. Khoo’s criteria for a good system wasn’t just bizarre; so was his logic: it meant that that if there were no Chinese-educated ‘famous’ scientist nor successful product commercialization, then those people had graduated from the failed, ‘copycat’ Chinese schools. Worse was his time frame: In the pre and immediate post Merdeka years, Malaysian education, whether in Chinese or English, was in a bad state. People then simply had more urgent matters of life and death to attend to
Here (and this isn’t the first time), below, is to prove Khoo wrong, a liar and a racist to boot because, as an Anglophile raised in the English language, he had only the Chinese-educated for his target. He didn’t dare touch the Malays nor the national school system. BBC had produced the table below from 2015 PISA statistics compiled for the best performers in science and mathematics by the OECD after testing more than half a million 15-year-old students in 76 countries. Again, the East Asian countries using script, not Roman alphabets, triumphed. The previous, 2012 results are here.
2015 PISA mathematics and science scores, by country ranking.
|2. Hong Kong|
|3. South Korea|
|4. Japan (joint)|
|4. Taiwan (joint)|
|17. New Zealand|
|20. United Kingdom|
|21. Czech Republic|
|28. Italy (joint)|
|28. United States (joint)|
|37. Slovak Republic|
|53. Costa Rica|
|66. Saudi Arabia|
|75. South Africa|
Because the Chinese schools were never, politically, administratively and financially, considered a part of the Malaysian mainstream, most of the Malaysian student participants in the 2015 PISA tests were from the Malay, national school system. The mean performance or OECD average fall between the 23-to-26 rankings. The US has lots of ‘famous’ scientists but their students do below average. The Philippines and South Africa have lots of English and are at the bottom of the pile; they are a write-off, like Malaysia.
Contrast them with the Chinese education systems, notably in Hong Kong and Taiwan that don’t produce ‘famous’ scientists. Japan and South Korea have traditionally modeled their systems on the Chinese imperial system, and until modern times used hanzi, the Chinese script. Singapore is a case in point about this: given improved economic conditions and access, the Chinese-educated can do remarkably well.
For a white-man copycat, neither famous nor any good intellectually, Khoo is a failed educator; it isn’t too late he goes back to school — Chinese school — and start all over again.